I’ve been using Google Adwords actively for over a year now (I even took the Google Advertising Professional Exam) and I realize I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve. Even though as I learned and tested things I didn’t think Adwords or PPC in general would have any tips and tricks as such – there are keywords, ads, your bids and that’s all there is to it, what more can you invent?
Nevertheless, when I take a look back I realize that I know things that I would have given everything to have known them back then. So here are some tips I can lay down on the table:
- The stories of Quality Score is what you scare your children with when they’re naughty. At least it’s the common fear that Google hates everyone and shells out random QS 1’s as they please. I don’t find that to be the case, on the contrary the QS is not a problem unless there’s really something bad. Usually if I see that I’m going nowhere with it, I just move on. You see, the Quality Score is not just about your landing page or your ad, it’s also about the history of a keyword that you have no control of whatsoever. All you have to do is just write about the keyword on your landing page (sometimes you don’t even need that!), and if you don’t get a 7, move on. If you get a 5-6, you may want to try working on your copy if you really want that keyword, but usually I don’t bother.
- To increase the QS to above 7 (if you don’t get more right away), you have to realize something. Past the initial evaluation it’s all about the CTR. The higher CTR you get, the higher the QS will be and the less cost per click you’ll pay. To increase your CTR, you can bid enough to be in spot #1 and limit your daily budget to a small amount so that you don’t pay through the nose (even if that means just 1 click a day). After a while, your CPC will go down by itself and you will retain your high position. Or you can lower the bid while closely watching the change of CTR. To maintain QS 7 just over 1% is enough, and to get a QS of 10 you will need 3-5% and more.
- The next tip might be pretty obvious, but I often see people missing the point. You must be consistent with your keyword, ad and your landing page. In other words, if the keyword is “blue gadget”, your ad must be about the blue gadget and so does your landing page. No general gadget ads or pages. You can get away with keyword themes if you bid on a lot of long tail keywords, but you should try to be consistent as much as you can. That affects your CTR, your CPC and your conversions.
- When writing ads, you can follow a very simple formula that works for me very well for me. Use the keyword as the headline (tweak it a little if it doesn’t make sense), include the main benefit and call to action in description lines and add the keyword in the display url again (as the sub-domain or the page name – they don’t have to actually exist on your site as per current Adwords rules).
- When testing an offer, a product or a niche, pick only the most targeted keywords that get as much traffic as possible. Don’t use one or two word key phrases (unless it really makes sense), but don’t resort to long tails either. Think of what the ideal customer would type in.
- Don’t waste too much money on testing. I usually spend under $50 per test, even if the bids are $1 a click or more. In my experience, if the offer doesn’t convert in the first 100 clicks, it’s a dud. At this point you have to either tweak your offer (if it’s your product) or move on to the next product (if you’re an affiliate), or do what you have to do, but this combination just ain’t gonna work.
- Consider the Content Network placements. While I don’t use the Content Network much, I do use the placements to expand on my already converting keywords. Pick the top sites that rank for your keywords in the organic results and use those as placements if they have Adsense on them. You have to test this carefully though, as sometimes the cost can be higher than the search network!
- Use lateral keywords. Nowadays the keywords are expensive it’s not even funny. In the worst niches it can get over $10 and more per click. I mean, who can pay that! Well, I once paid $36/click and still turned profit but that’s another story. To put your ad out there in the competitive niche you have to think outside the box. Believe it or not, you can get clicks for 5 cents or less in the most competitive niches if you think in terms of demographics rather than keywords. Think what else these people would type in instead of the obvious niche keywords. For example, if you target the weight loss niche, bid on magazine names, tv show names, even diet names are there for the taking – everything that your average prospect would type in other than “how to lose weight”. The challenge with lateral keywords is the CTR, but it’s worth testing out.
- Track everything like there’s no tomorrow, and test everything. You have to track every single keyword, every match type, every ad, every click, every conversion, and kill the losers on the spot. Test everything, don’t make assumptions. That especially applies to your ads and your landing page – ideally you should be split-testing them constantly to really ramp up your CTR and conversion rate. Though I’m ashamed to admit I’m lazy on that one too often.
Those are the 9 top Google Adwords tips that I think are essential in the way I work with it. I definitely would have loved to know these tips beforehand, I’ve wasted a lot of money to learn some of them. Hopefully you’ll find them useful. If you think I’ve missed something, be my guest to add to the list.